What Criteria Should Be Used in Promoting Employees?

What Criteria Should Be Used in Promoting Employees?

From considering your employees’ goals to assessing an employee’s abilities in communication, here are 12 answers to the question, “What criterion do you use when promoting employees?”

  • Behaviors and Company Alignment
  • Proactivity and Contributions to Company Growth
  • Leadership Potential
  • Skills and Knowledge Over Experience
  • Responsibilities and Additional Tasks Taken
  • Role Performance
  • Employee’s Goals and Desires
  • Growth and Willingness to Learn
  • Inquisitive and Ambitious Qualities
  • Expertise and Proficiency
  • Managerial Potential and People Skills
  • Soft Skills

Behaviors and Company Alignment

In theory, promotional decisions should be based on an individual’s ability to perform the responsibilities of their role if it helps the business achieve its overall goals. At the beginning of the year, employees should set goals aligned with business goals, actively track their progress towards those goals—and receive feedback from their manager.

If we go by the theory that compensation influences behavior, if you promote someone (and ‌increase their salary), it should be connected to behaviors you, as the employer, want to see and help the business reach its goals. This also helps you establish a strong business case for promotion, and your employees can feel confident that promotion decisions aren’t made arbitrarily.

Eric MochnaczEric Mochnacz
Senior HR Consultant, Red Clover

Proactivity and Contributions to Company Growth

Most employees can undeniably follow instructions and execute tasks. However, what truly sets an employee apart is how proactive they have been in helping the company grow.

When promoting employees, it is crucial to consider how much of their growth has sprung from personal motivation and how much is just a consequence of their role.

During this process, companies may benefit from identifying ways employees have gone beyond their roles to upskill, take on additional projects, and contribute to the company. It shows other employees that taking initiative is important, and they are likely to join in too.

Harry MortonHarry Morton
Founder, Lower Street

Leadership Potential

One of the most important criteria for promoting employees is their leadership potential. An employee who shows strong leadership qualities can be a valuable asset to the company and help drive success.

When considering an employee for a leadership position, it’s important to look for qualities such as the ability to motivate and inspire others, effective communication skills, the willingness to take initiative and decide, and a positive attitude.

Employees who show a willingness to take on new challenges, adapt to change, and continuously improve their skills can be excellent candidates for leadership roles.

Natalia BrzezinskaNatalia Brzezinska
Marketing and Outreach Manager, ePassportPhoto

Skills and Knowledge Over Experience

I always prioritize skill and knowledge of experience. While experience is definitely important, I believe if an employee has the right skills; they have the potential to outshine even the most experienced person on the team. So to me, it’s not just about the length of their tenure, it’s what they bring with it.

So, whenever I’m considering promoting an employee or giving them a raise, I always inspect their skill set and how knowledgeable they are in their field. That’s what really sets someone apart in my book.

Shaun ConnellShaun Connell
Founder, Writing Tips Institute

Responsibilities and Additional Tasks Taken

Simple question I ask before promotion: “Has this employee assumed responsibility for over 50% of the additional tasks they will take on?” People take action if they want to grow in a company. We don’t want to have an environment where people sleepwalk into promotions. They need to show initiative and meet the clearly set expectations we have for each role. As managers, the most important thing we can do is spell out exactly what the expectations are.

Trevor EwenTrevor Ewen
COO, QBench

Role Performance

Many factors come into play when deciding whether to promote an employee. One key criterion is how well the employee has performed in their role. They may be a suitable candidate for promotion if they have consistently exceeded expectations and are willing to go above and beyond.

Other factors that can come into play include tenure, attitude, and work ethic. Promoting employees has their leadership potential, ability to work well with others and contribute to a team, commitment to the organization and its values, and potential for long-term growth and development within the company. The specific employee promotion criteria will depend on the company’s values and goals.

Curtis AndersonCurtis Anderson
Co-founder and CEO, Nursa

Employee’s Goals and Desires

As a manager, it is essential to consider your employees’ desires. If an employee does not wish to be promoted, then it is vital to respect their wishes. It is equally important to consider their reasons for not wanting a promotion. If an employee is experiencing issues with a particular manager, for example, they may not wish to be promoted out of fear of being placed under the leadership of another problematic manager.

It’s also important to understand what motivates your employees and how they want to grow and develop in their careers. If you have a team member who is interested in starting a side project, for example, consider ways they can make that happen within the company. And if someone on your team is interested in taking on a different role or project, make sure they have the resources to do that.

Luciano ColosLuciano Colos
Founder and CEO, PitchGrade

Growth and Willingness to Learn

In most cases, a promotion isn’t just a more prestigious version of the same position. Normally, it also comes with an expansion of responsibilities or new tasks that the promoted employee will be in charge of. Sometimes, it will mean that they’re now in a position of authority over former coworkers. These scenarios will cause a change in mindset and the use of new skills that weren’t a part of their previous role.

I consider the individual’s progress over time and their ability and willingness to learn and grow, besides their past performance, when I’m deciding who is the best candidate for a promotion. I find this helps me more accurately identify the individual who will be most likely to thrive in the new role, rather than simply defaulting to the person who’s best at their current job but hasn’t shown an aptitude for going beyond it.

Matt ErhardMatt Erhard
Managing Partner, Summit Search Group

Inquisitive and Ambitious Qualities

When determining which employees to promote, I take their workload into context. Have they been diligent and plowed through the work assigned to them? That is one reliable criterion used for evaluation, but I also look beyond the tasks presented. Do they pursue ideas and projects that are beneficial to their department or organization? It may not matter much day-to-day, but long-term it could lead to forward progress and innovation on the job.

For these reasons, I consider qualities such as initiative when making promotion decisions. An example of this is someone who teaches a related set of skills outside of their daily duties—sharing lessons with colleagues or even a larger community. This shows enthusiasm for learning more about future trends and builds connections beyond what is asked of them; both attributes are crucial for promotional growth.

Grace HeGrace He
People and Culture Director, teambuilding.com

Expertise and Proficiency

When promoting an employee, look for someone who has proven to be an expert in their field and showed proficiency in their job duties. You also want to consider the individual’s leadership skills, ability to positively contribute to the team, and commitment to excellence.

It’s vital that the employee in question should make a lasting impact on the organization through their technical knowledge and expertise. Their presence should add value to the team dynamic and benefit the business overall. Last, they must show dedication and enthusiasm for their work while inspiring those around them with their achievements.

Gary GrayGary Gray
CFO, CouponChief.com

Managerial Potential and People Skills

Whenever we consider promoting an employee into management for the first time, the primary consideration is their people skills, not their current role performance.

They often elevate employees to management positions based solely on their technical expertise, even though these positions require people skills instead. Naturally, management requires an entirely distinct skill set, and not all top-performing individual contributors will make effective managers. Similarly, promotion into senior management is based on leadership skills, rather than performance in a comparatively transactional management position.

Management should recognize and reward performance by offering pay raises to technically competent employees who lack people skills, rather than promotions. We recognize and reward performance, while also effectively matching skill sets appropriately with this approach.

Ben SchwenckeBen Schwencke
Business Psychologist, Test Partnership

Soft Skills

While technical expertise and experience are certainly valuable, soft skills such as communication, teamwork, problem-solving, adaptability, and customer service are equally important. Employees who possess strong soft skills are not only more effective in their roles, but they also are better leaders, collaborators, and mentors. Promoting employees with strong soft skills fosters a positive workplace culture where communication, collaboration, and innovation thrive.

Basana SahaBasana Saha
Founder, KidsCareIdeas

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